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Bowie State student seeks $3M for fraternity hazing

A Bowie State University junior has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity for injuries he allegedly suffered while being hazed as a pledge.

Kevin Hayes also alleges he was “ostracized and bullied” by members of the fraternity after they saw photos of his injuries saved on his phone and told him to delete the images.

But Hayes, who pledged the fraternity’s Eta Zeta chapter in the fall of 2013, has remained a member because he wants to “change things from the inside,” according to his lawyer.

“He’s sad that he had to do it [file the lawsuit] but knows it was the right thing to do,” said Jimmy A. Bell, an Upper Marlboro solo practitioner. “Hazing is a crime.”

Officials from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s national headquarters in Baltimore did not respond to messages seeking comment. Founded in 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha was the first Greek-letter fraternity for black students and has 353 chapters at colleges and universities across the country, including nine in Maryland.

On its website, the fraternity states it “strictly prohibits hazing in any form, whether physical or mental as a term or condition of membership in the organization.” Alpha Phi Alpha’s anti-hazing statement also notes that anyone who commits hazing “is individually and personally liable to the victim and can be subject to a lawsuit for monetary damages” in addition to facing “severe disciplinary action by the Fraternity.”

Bowie State is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed Monday in Prince George’s County Circuit Court.

Hayes is an aspiring lawyer who was elected freshman class president at Bowie State and currently is executive member at-large for the Student Government Association, according to the lawsuit. He wanted to join Alpha Phi Alpha when he learned “many of the men he came to admire were members,” including Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson, according to the lawsuit.

As a pledge, Hayes claims he was subjected to punches, slaps, body slams and hits from a paddle during all-night initiation sessions, the lawsuit states. Pledges learned chapter and fraternity information and were “punished” if the information was not recited correctly, the lawsuit states. Some fraternity brothers who performed the beatings wore masks to conceal their identities, the lawsuit states.

“It’s criminal, sadistic behavior,” said Bell, who has known Hayes since Hayes was a boy.

The pledges also were prohibited from telling others what they had been through during the initiation sessions “because that would be called ‘snitching,'” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit accuses Alpha Phi Alpha of violating Maryland’s anti-hazing law. Hayes seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages for battery, false imprisonment and gross negligence.

The case is Kevin Hayes v. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., et al., CAL14-36637.

9 comments

  1. Coward. You knew what you were doing when you started chump

  2. I would have more respect for him if he would have told as soon as it happened as a pledgee. Don’t go to set every night and allow them to mistreat you if you have a problem with it. Why strive to even be apart of a Fraternity that speaks of anti-hazing but does the opposite? He could’ve made a difference from the outside. He still wanted those letters though. He should be penalized for allowing it to happen to not only himself but his line brothers without alerting someone earlier.

  3. James you are correct. He is definitely a chump for trying to make money off of them now after he willingly participated. He has no integrity because any member of any of the fraternities knows the type of pledge you make to your fraternity.

  4. Calling someone a laptop gangster and then saying you’ll reply with an address. Lol. Grow up. And for god’s sake spell check on your laptop, smart phone or with your eyes.

    Oh and since the guy said he wants to change the culture from the inside out, it appears he did in fact have some knowledge of what he was doing when he started. Not much to compensate if you finish up the process that so injured you to a $1M alleged injury with $2M punitive for irreparable harm/punishment.

  5. This is idiotic. I’m sorry but that kid is a moron because how do you go through 6 weeks or more of pledging and then wait until after you cross to decide that it was too much for you. He should be ashamed of himself because I know for a fact that he knew after that first night what he was going to go through which means he only endured the process so he could sue. And all this mess about wanting to change them from the inside suing isn’t the way to do it. He looks untrustworthy and his letters need to be revoked.

  6. Everyone knows hazing is illegal, so where’s the culpability of the alleged victim. He could have reported the first incidence of hazing to the fraternity national office and the school. The guy could have avoided all the abuse by simply reporting wrong doing in the beginning. He would have been taken through sanctioned processes to achieve membership. The alleged hazers should be punished but this guy’s predetermined negligence should not be rewarded by a lawsuit settlement.

  7. So, this guy has been a member since Fall 03′ and now decides to sue the Fraternity he is currently a member of? The funny thing is, he probably won’t see a dime from the fraternity and will only end up hurting his chapter brothers by getting them kicked out of school and possibly put in jail. Wow, they don’t make them like they used to!

  8. Perhaps when some of you get older you will understand that being an educated black man does not mean getting beat down. In addition, if you truly love your organization why jeopardize it. Do you believe in your organization? Do you trust the leadership? Would you beat up someone’s kid in front of the Board of Directors and chairmen of APA?

    Do you realize how much time, money and love is required to send a kid to college. Keeping them from the streets? Keeping them from cops? Keeping them focused? Then sending them to somewhere to get beat up that supposed to be polishing them and preparing them for life.

    His reasons don’t matter.

  9. I hope that stupid frat pays big time! Whether he reported it early or later is irrelevant. If a crime were being comitted on an ongoing basis then a victim’s failure to report the abuse quickly does not absolve the abuser of criminal culpability. Hazing is crminal abuse.

    For those of you whining about the dollar amount, you need to remember that nothing gets the attention of a criminal organization faster than having to pay out a huge settlement. Do any of you remeber how much damage Morris Dee has done to the Klan through litigation?

    African American social fraternities are notorious for the abuse they inflict upon pledges. I hope this lawsuit helps to end it forever.